The Rio de Janeiro laboratory responsible for processing all athletes’ drug test samples at the Summer Olympics has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA spokesman Ben Nichols confirmed to ESPN on Friday.
The news was first reported by the New Zealand website stuff.co.nz, which quoted outgoing WADA director general David Howman saying the suspension was due to technical errors and called it “pretty disturbing.”
WADA issued a statement Friday saying the lab was shut down Wednesday and is prohibited from “carrying out all anti-doping analyses on urine and blood samples.”
The lab has 21 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
In the meantime, all samples will be transported “with a demonstrable chain of custody” to another WADA-accredited laboratory “as soon as possible,” according to the statement.
“The Agency will ensure that, for the time being, samples that would have been intended for the Laboratory, will be transported securely, promptly and with a demonstrable chain of custody to another WADA-accredited laboratory worldwide,” WADA incoming director general Olivier Niggli said in a statement. “This will ensure that there are no gaps in the anti-doping sample analysis procedures; and that, the integrity of the samples is fully maintained.
“Athletes can have confidence that the suspension will only be lifted by WADA when the Laboratory is operating optimally; and that, the best solution will be put in place to ensure that sample analysis for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games is robust.”